Many old temples have resurfaced in the backwaters of Upper Krishna Project (UKP) as the water level receded this summer.
About 197 villages around Benal were submerged in 1997 when the UKP was initiated. Benal village has now been relocated to Nenal RC and Benal Railway station area. The project was completed in 2001 when its height was raised to a permissible limit of 519.6 mts.
Nilesh Benal, founder of Param Pita Gandhi Physiological Foundation working for preserving the old temples, said the Foundation had urged the state government and Kudalsangam Authority to mark the stones of the important temples and preserve them in a museum in Bagalkot. Some officials had shown interest but the state government did not take up the scheme. There was no rehabilitation commissioner for a long time and no one was worried about it. He said there were about 15 to 20 such temples.
But Kamaleshwar and Sangamanath temples are quite ancient. Nilesh Benal said even a famous Kannada film ‘Nagamandal’ was shot at Honnihal village in Bilagi taluk in 1997. The temples are said to be built during the 6th century. But no acceptable research papers were available now. Even the famous revolutionary, Sindur Laxman, is said to have visited these temples in 1920, before he was hanged by the British rulers. But no historical evidences are now available.
He said the Sangameshwar idol was shifted to a new temple, but the idol of Kamaleshwar was large and stone crafted, hence could not be lifted. He urged the state government to preserve the ancient heritage, which lies submerged.